Despite the uniqueness of the location and people injured in this week’s Republican baseball practice shooting in Virginia, there is much about the case that is absolutely textbook, criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University writes in USA Today. Most obvious is the lack of randomness. Mass shootings, are rarely indiscriminate in terms of victim selection. James Hodgkinson wasn’t gunning for specific people, but he clearly sought to harm a specific group of people: Republican lawmakers whom he felt were destroying American society, favoring the rich over average folks like him. As is typical, his was a planned attack against a perceived enemy, an attempt to “win one for the little guy,” Fox says.
The gunman’s background and mindset reflected in his Facebook posts and letters to his local newspaper match the five factors identified time and time again in episodes like this. Fox lists them as a history of failure and disappointment, externalization of blame, social isolation, precipitating events, and access to deadly weapons. Fox cautions that, “There are countless Americans who are failing, frustrated, bitter, comfortable around firearms, and even post hateful words online, yet very few would seriously consider committing an act of mass violence.”